Sunday, June 30, 2013

Happy Birthday to #Made4Math!

Gosh, can you believe that a year has gone by already? It was one year ago that @pamjwilson and I decided to start #Made4Math Mondays and since then, you have contributed HUNDREDS of ideas of lesson activities, decor, organization, and more!

To celebrate our first birthday, we would love to invite you to a Made4Math party! That means that during the day on Monday, July 1, we would love for you to do one of the following:

1) Create something for #Made4Math and share it! It's super easy to share... just write a blog post, submit it here, and then go read all of the amazing ideas on the Made4Math blog

2) Reflect on something you (or someone else) made for a previous #Made4Math project. Maybe you tried a project and really liked it... or maybe it was a total bust! For example, last year, I created a teacher binder. Some of it was awesome and I *loved* it... some of it, not so much! However, I never went back and updated the post with my reflections about it worked for me. Here's your chance! Write up a blog post and share with us!

3) Not really into blogging? That's okay too and we want you to be a part of the #Made4Math party! Go back through the archives at the Made4Math blog, pick a submission you really liked, go to their blog and add a comment, and then tweet it out! Sometimes I forget how many *AWESOME* ideas are in the archives!

Thank you for helping make this first year a success! This is why the #MTBoS is so amazing... it's all due to people like YOU! :)

Monday, June 24, 2013

#Made4Math - Pinch Cards and Stoplight Cups

Wow - my first #Made4Math post of the summer! I've officially been out of school for one month today, but honestly, it doesn't feel like it yet! With the AP Reading and getting ready for the AVID Summer Institute, it's been a *busy* summer so far! However, I still have so much on my to-do list that I hope that I can get it all done!

Project #1 - Pinch Cards
If you follow me on pinterest, you might have noticed that I've been pinning a lot of Formative Assessment ideas. After reading Embedded Formative Assessment earlier this summer, I have decided this is a major goal for me this year. I've thought a lot about student response cards and how I want to incorporate those into my classroom. I do have electronic clickers, but honestly, those often take more time than they are worth to set up, so I wanted something easy that I could use on a daily basis. A lot of the response cards I had seen were held together by jump rings, which I thought was an awesome idea, but I decided to try Pinch Cards instead:

The idea behind a pinch card is that students hold them up and put their finger over their letter choice. Since our AP test has 5 possible answers for every multiple choice question, I went with ABCDE options. On the back, I put options for Always/Sometimes/Never. I've never used these before, but @pamjwilson really likes A/S/N so I trust her judgment!

Want the file? Get it HERE

Project #2 - AVID Binders
Tomorrow, I leave for AVID Summer Institute, which is our yearly training (aka AVID Summer Camp). This is an intense 3.5 days where I will be with 8 of my colleagues nearly round the clock. As the Site Coordinator, I have a leadership role in making sure SI goes smoothly and we use our time in an efficient manner. Of course, being the organized person I am, I decided to put together binders for the participants:

Each person has a binder labelled with their title. Inside each binder is Cornell notepaper and tabbed dividers. In front of the dividers is the AVID mission statement and how it parallels to our district goals. The first tab has a copy of our 2012-13 certification documents so that each of the participants knows where we stand in terms of the 11 AVID essentials. The second tab has a classroom observation form for us to self-assess our classrooms as well as additional lesson ideas to incorporate WICOR (Writing, Inquiry, Collaboration, Organization, and Reading) Strategies. The third tab deals with the AVID classroom standards and daily lesson plans. The fourth tab is a copy of the AVID Weekly table of contents for each month of this past year. The fifth and final tab are documents specific to our school, such as our contract, intervention plan, etc.

I know the AVID binders aren't really a #Made4Math probject, but I spent a lot of time on them and I'm very proud of how they turned out! :)

Project #3 - Stoplight Cups
Project #3 is still in progress, mainly because I haven't been to my classroom yet! However, if you follow me on twitter, you might have seen me tweet about them...

We went to our new Dollar Tree to try to find these suckers... they only had Red and Green. Decided to make the drive into town to go to the party supply place to buy these. On the way home, stopped at Dollar General and they had the Yellow. Could have saved myself a few dollars, but oh well! :)

In case you are wondering what I plan to do with paper cups, these are part of my Formative Assessment goal. I work in groups a lot during class and I spend a lot of time milling about listening into conversations. These cups will be on their desks (upside down) when they are working. If everything is going well, the green cup should be on top. If the group hits a snag, but are still able to keep working, they will move the yellow cup to the top. If they really need help ASAP, the red cup should be on top.

What did YOU make for #Made4Math?
Head on over to the #Made4Math blog to see the posts from other participants! Happy Monday!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Technical Difficulties

As some of you know, I've been out of town at the AP Statistics reading in Kansas City. As a result, I've not really checked the blog comments, etc. Some of you have posted comments about some of the older files not working and I want to apologize. A few weeks ago, our internet provider sent us a letter saying they were discontinuing support for DSL. As a result, we would need to switch over to our cable company for internet access and that also meant that we would no longer have a static IP, and thus, no ability to host our own server. Most of the files that I have linked throughout the years were on that server, so I will need to find those files, upload them elsewhere, and relink each of the older blogposts. I greatly apologize for this inconvenience, but I cannot promise when this will be done. The best I can do is ask for your patience as I comb through years of blog posts and relocate files. I just got home yesterday and will be leaving again in a few days, so I don't know that I will get much done until July in regard to this issue.

Thanks for your patience!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Describe it to me!

Ever have those moments where you have to get something out of your head before you forget??  For me, the older I get, the more often those moments happen!  If I don't write it down (and quickly), I'm just sunk.  

Anyway, so today, I had a brilliant idea!  Or at least it seemed brilliant at the time... :). I quickly jotted down a note on a post and now that I have a few minutes, decided to blog it out.  This will be one of those rare posts without a pin-able picture and since I'm using my iPad, my finger might be hurting when I'm done jabbing the screen after this post.  :)

In my Stat class, I often ask kids to describe something, whether that is a graph, a distribution, whatever.  For whatever reason, this is something that gives many of my students trouble.  For years, I have told them to "just tell me what you see!", but some kids still struggle.  Either they miss the big picture or they don't give me enough information.  I've even used the old Saturday Night Sketch where the lady is trying to describe the thief to the police officers, but it hasn't really helped them get what I mean.  So, next year, when I initially teach describing, I'm going to try a different approach...

I'm going to ask a student volunteer to be the "Guesser", then have them sit in my podium chair with their back to my Promethean.  Another student volunteer will be the "teller" and will be seated where they can see the board.  Then, I'll project a photo of a famous person and have the Teller describe the person to the Guesser and after every clue, ask the Guesser if they can guess who is being described. I'm hoping this will get the point across that one clue alone isn't typically enough information and that the more descriptive the Teller can be, the better picture the Guesser can form in his/her head and the better guess that can be made.

After a few of these, I'll give the Guesser a whiteboard and project a graph on the board.  Now the Teller will need to describe the graph in such a way that the Guesser can draw the graph on the whiteboard.  This would transition into student pairs writing descriptions of a graph on paper, giving the written description to their partner and seeing if the partner can recreate the graph.

As a side note, I am pretty sure I have seen something similar as a time filler activity from a substitute teacher guide... Might have to find that book/website again!!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Keeping Track of SBG via your INB :)

This year was my first year using Interactive Notebooks (INBs) in my math classes. This year was a pretty rough year overall, but the INBs were one really bright spot in my year. I can't pinpoint why it was a rough year - I mean, I didn't have any major life occurances, but for whatever reason, I just never really meshed with a lot of my students this year. As a result, I was 95% sure that I was going to skip my yearly ritual of asking students for feedback and just close the book on this year and be done. However, at the last minute, I decided against this plan and the student responses actually shocked me. They were overwhelmingly positive, particulary about the notebook. The students loved that we were creating their own personalized textbook that they could keep as a resource forever!

There were some suggestions for how to improve the notebook, and one of them had to do with Standards Based Grading. I have read quite a bit of research on SBG and one piece even detailed how important it was for students to track/graph their grades. As a result, one of their pages in their INB is devoted to keeping track of their scores.

Here was the 2012-13 version:

The idea was that when I handed back a quiz, students would immediately flip to this page, fill in the info at the top with the quiz number and Learning Target (LT), then color in the boxes to indicate their score. When they reassessed, they could color on top of it to see their improvment. This idea did not work as planned, mainly because I wasn't consistent with reminding them to go to this page and also because students struggled to see their improvement.

After feedback from my students and rethinking this idea, here is the 2013-14 version:

This time, I wrote out all of the objectives for the year so that the students could see the year overall without a ton of flipping back and forth. This also has space for them to write an original score (which I'll have them colorcode), and space for the reassessment score. In my AP class, most students only reassess once, so I only put room for one reassessment.

I'm hoping this increased user-friendly-ness will help both my students and myself keep better organized when recording their scores.

How do you have students keep track of their grades?